Social worker Abu Bakar Maidin dies, aged 86

Mr Abu Bakar, former president of Jamiyah Singapore.

SINGAPORE - Mr Abu Bakar Maidin, special adviser and former president of welfare group Jamiyah Singapore, has died.

The 86-year-old was warded last week for a lung infection, but his condition worsened and he succumbed to the illness on Tuesday evening in hospital. He leaves behind his 78-year-old wife, five children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

His fourth child, current Jamiyah president Mohd Hasbi Abu Bakar, said his father was discussing Jamiyah's future even in his last days. "My father was telling us how Jamiyah can further help the poor and needy in society," he said.

Mr Abu Bakar was frequently lauded for his commitment to providing care to the underprivileged in Singapore, regardless of race, language or religion.

He took up the reins of Jamiyah in 1970 and helmed it for 40 years, building it up from a group with 190 members and just $5.60 in the bank to more than 35,000 members today. Its various programmes currently help more than 4,000 beneficiaries, about half of whom are non-Muslim.

Under Mr Abu Bakar's charge, public clinics were set up offering free medical and legal services. Jamiyah's four current homes and eight education centres were also set up during his time.

During Jamiyah's 80th anniversary dinner last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that the Malay-Muslim missionary organisation had used its educational programmes, through centres such as the Jamiyah Kindergarten and Jamiyah Business School, to assist in social mobility.

In his speech, Mr Lee also credited Jamiyah's achievements to Mr Abu Bakar's strong leadership, calling him a "role model" not just for the Malay-Muslim community, but for many other Singaporeans in social and community work.

In the years just before Mr Abu Bakar stepped down, he still worked 12-hour days, going to work by 8am and packing his days with meetings.

Even when his four-decade long leadership ended, he continued serving Jamiyah as an executive consultant, and was named special adviser just last month.

The community leader won the President's Social Service Award and the Public Service Award, and also served on the Presidential Council for Minority Rights.

Said Dr Mohd Hasbi: "My father was a great man, who patiently served the community. He gave his heart and soul to community services."

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